The title of George Eliot’s novel (slightly adapted in my heading) seems singularly appropriate to my 9 x great grandmother, Anne Wane. She spent all of her fifty or so years living in the rectory at Clayton in Sussex, being the daughter of one incumbent, and then the wife of no fewer than three of his successors. Anne’s life coincided with a period of dramatic change in England: born in the eighth year of the reign of James I (the year in which the Authorised Version of the Bible was first published), she was a young woman when Charles I was king, brought up her children during the tumult of the Civil War, and died a year after the Restoration of the monarchy.

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton (via

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton (via

According to Walter Charles’ Renshaw’s history of the Byne family, Anne was the daughter of William Wane, then rector of Clayton, and his wife Joan, who was the widow of Thomas Kemp, a yeoman of Albourne. William and Joan Wane were my 10 x great grandparents. William Wane was born at Westerham, Kent in 1561, in the third year of the reign of Elizabeth I. He was ordained deacon on 28th May 1598 and priest on 24th June in the same year. He served briefly as curate of Wivelsfield, Sussex, before becoming rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer on 1st January 1601/2.

Renshaw claims that Anne Wane was christened at Clayton on 2nd March 1602/3 (depending on which calendar one is using). However, I’ve found a record stating that Anne was actually christened on the same day in 1611. I’ve yet to find any evidence of other children born to William and Joan Wane. As I noted in an earlier post, Renshaw informs us that, in 1606/7, William ‘was in trouble with the Court on account of his relations with a woman named Ellenor Poulter’ (Renshaw, page 126). He died in 1626, in the second year of the reign of Charles I, and was buried at Clayton on 22nd September.

Six days after William Wane’s funeral, a new rector arrived in Clayton. He was John Bantnor, M.A., who had been born in Westmeston, Sussex, in 1595/6, the son of the local rector of the same name, and his wife Joan, widow of John Pardon of Ditchling. John Bantnor was ordained deacon in 1618 and priest on 18th December 1625.

On 9th July 1628, a little under two years after his arrival in Clayton, John Bantor married Anne Wane. He was about thirty years old at the time and she would have 17 years old (if we believe the baptismal record, rather than Renshaw’s account). It’s possible that John Bantnor found the orphaned Anne (we don’t know if her mother Joan was still alive) living in the rectory when he arrived, and took responsibility for her, marrying her when she reached an appropriate age.

Via FamilySearch, I’ve  found christening records for two children born to John and Anne Bantnor. A daughter named Anne was baptised at Clayton on 17th May 1631, while a son named Thomas was christened there in 1635. John Batnor died in 1638 when he was about 42 years old. If we opt for the later date for his widow Anne’s birth, then she would have been about 27 when he died.

The next incumbent of Clayton was William Chowne, who was instituted as rector on 17th July 1638. He was the eldest surviving son of Thomas Chowne Esquire of Alfreston, and his wife, Rachel Campion. Thomas was the son and heir of Sir George Chowne, who was Member of Parliament for Rochester in 1593. Rachel was the daughter of William Campion of Camberwell and sister of Sir William Campion, the latter being the Royalist leader who was killed during the Siege of Colchester in 1648.

Sir William Campion (via Colchester & Ipswich Museums)

Sir William Campion (via Colchester & Ipswich Museums)

Some sources suggest that William Chowne was the person of that name who went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1625 and was later a fellow of St John’s College. Four months to the day after his arrival in Clayton, on 17th October 1638, William married the widowed Anne Bantnor née Wane. Perhaps, like his predecessor, he found Anne living in Clayton rectory on his arrival there, possibly with two young children (we know from other sources that her son Thomas, at least, survived to adulthood), and felt moved to take them under his wing.

I’ve found a christening record for a William Chowne, born to William and Anne and baptised at Clayton on 5th October 1639. Renshaw tells us that this child died in infancy, though he was still alive when his father William made his will in May 1640, since a number of properties were bequeathed to him and his mother Anne. William Chowne senior was buried at Clayton on 10th June 1640, leaving Anne a widow for the second time.

Six weeks later, a new rector arrived in Clayton, fresh from his curacy in Wadhurst, which was close to his family home in Burwash. This was Magnus Byne, my 9 x great grandfather, and destined to become the third husband of Anne Chowne, formerly Bantnor, née Wane. Magnus was inducted to the rectory of Clayton-cum-Keymer on 24th July 1640, two years before the outbreak of civil war in England. He was 25 years old, four years younger than Anne. Renshaw does not give a date or location for the wedding of Magnus and Anne, but I’ve found a record via Ancestry. On 12th August 1640, Magnus Bines (sic) and Anne Chowne were married at the church of St Saviour, Southwark (wrongly listed under ‘St Saviour, Denmark Park’ at Ancestry): now the cathedral church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie.

I’m intrigued by this choice of church. There seems to be a longstanding connection with Southwark on the part of both the Byne and Ma(u)nser families (Magnus Byne’s mother Mary was born a Maunser). Magnus’ youngest son, also named Magnus, would later live in the borough, close to the Marshalsea (and thus to St Saviour’s), working as an apothecary. Another apothecary, Abraham Ma(u)nser, whose family were from Sussex and connected by marriage to the Bynes, also lived in Southwark. John Maunser, the second son of William Maunser of Hightown, was said to be ‘of Southwark’ at the time of the visitation of Sussex in 1633-4. I believe that John was a cousin of Magnus’ mother Mary Maunser.

Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, Southwark, and London Bridge, in 1616

Church of St Saviour and St Mary Overie, Southwark, and London Bridge, in 1616

But the connection with Southwark, and particularly with its parish church, goes back further than that. Magnus Byne’s grandfather, Edward Byne of Burwash, married Agnes, the daughter of Magnus Fowle of Mayfield (I believe this is how the unusual first name entered the Byne family). As I’ve written before, Magnus was the son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, Lewes, who died in 1559 and was the first ancestor I’ve discovered who was loyal to the traditional, Catholic pre-Reformation faith. One of Gabriel’s brothers was Bartholomew Fowle, the last prior of St Mary Overie, Southwark, which he was forced to surrender at the Dissolution of the monasteries in 1539.

Magnus and Anne Byne had five children together over the next decade or so, coinciding with the period of the Civil War. Mary was baptised at Clayton on 29th July 1641 and buried there on 26th August 1643; Ann was baptised there on 18th January 1643 and buried there in February 1662/3; Stephen was born in 1649; Edward was next, but Renshaw doesn’t supply a date for his birth; and John (my 8 x great grandfather), baptised there on 11th March 1651/2.

Anne Byne was buried at Clayton on 11th March 1661/2; she would have been fifty or fifty-one years old when she died. Perhaps there was an epidemic at the time, since Thomas Bantnor, Anne’s son from her first marriage, was buried at Clayton three days later; he was 26 years old. In his will Thomas named his half-sister Ann Byne as his executrix, but she died a year after him, being buried on 7th February 1662/3; she was 19 years old.

When their mother died, Stephen Byne was fifteen years old and perhaps had already begun his apprenticeship as an upholder (or upholsterer) in London, Edward was about thirteen years old, and John eleven. Six months after Anne’s death, their father Magnus would marry for a second time, to Sarah Bartlett, daughter of London citizen and stationer John Bartlett.